Cricket: India captain Virat Kohli laments one-off final after Black Caps win World Test Championship

India captain Virat Kohli has labelled New Zealand as deserving winners of the World Test Championship final, but believes future iterations of the tournament decider should be at least a best-of-three series.

The Black Caps claimed a stunning victory over India by eight wickets to win the inaugural World Test Championship in Southampton this morning, beating the odds and the weather to claim a historic victory.

Speaking after his team’s defeat, Kohli – a staunch advocate for the traditional format of the sport – lamented the one-off final, saying he doesn’t believe one match is sufficient to decide the best test side in the world.

“I am not in absolute agreement of deciding the best test side in the world over the course of one game,” Kohli said.

“If it is a test series, it has to be a test of character over three tests – which team has the ability to come back in the series, or totally blow away the other team. It can’t just be pressure applied over two days of good cricket and then you suddenly you are not a good test side anymore. I don’t believe in it.”

Kohli was echoing what he had already pointed out on the eve of the final when he said the one-off match wouldn’t carry too much weight for his side, adding that it doesn’t take away what India have done in the test arena over the last few years.

“It has to be a hard grind and something that definitely needs to be worked around in the future,” Kohli said.

“At the end of three matches, where there’s effort, there’s ups and downs, there’s situations changing during the course of the series, a chance to rectify the things you have done in the first game, and then really see who is the better side over the course of a three-match series or something, will be a good measure of how things really are.

“So we are not too bothered by this result because we understand as a test side what we have done over the last three-four years, not just over the last 18 months. So this is not a measure of who we are as a team [with] the ability and the potential we have had for so many years now.”

Despite washouts in days one and four, the final still produced entertaining cricket with a thrilling climax on the reserved sixth day.

When asked if the quality of the cricket during the final was another reason to have a best-of-three final in the future, Kohli responded categorically.

“Absolutely. If you saw the way the game went, with whatever time we got on the field, why wouldn’t you want to see two more tests of the same teams battling it out and, eventually, being the worthy winners of the World Test Championship?

“Historically all the great series that you’ve seen in test cricket, you remember them over a period of three matches or five matches perhaps, with two teams going against each other and those series become memorable.

“This definitely has to be brought in. I’m not saying this because we’re not on the winning side, but just for test cricket and for this saga to be absolutely memorable, it has to happen over a period of three games minimum, so that you have a series to remember.

“There are going to be ups and downs throughout, with two quality sides going at each other, knowing that there’s so much on the line.”

Black Caps captain Kane Williamson, who led his side to a maiden world title after World Cup final heartbreak in 2015 and 2019, saw merit in Kohli’s argument but also believed a one-off final had its benefits.

“I suppose the exciting part to finals is that anything can happen,” Williamson said in response to Kohli’s comments.

“We know how fickle cricket is and we’ve seen it in other competitions, in other World Cups and in all other bits and pieces.

“The one-off factor does bring a unique dynamic, which does make it exciting and all these sorts of things, and on any given day anything can happen. We’ve been on all different sides of that statement.”

One hurdle to the prospect of a best-of-three final would be the already packed cricket calendar, something ICC’s acting chief executive Geoff Allardice has said could be an issue.

Williamson agreed scheduling would be difficult.

“I suppose there’s arguments for both sides, and I guess the challenge would be scheduling that series among a lot of cricket that’s already on, but no doubt, the more cricket that you have within a series, the more you do find out and the more it does reveal itself.

“But in the same way it was a really exciting match. It’s the first time that there’s been this competition on, and both teams were fully geared for the game, and it was a brilliant game of cricket.”

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